The medical model in psychiatry assumes medical intervention is the treatment of choice for the constellations of diagnosed symptoms that comprise various mental disorders. These treatments may include pharmacotherapy, electroconvulsive treatment, brain stimulation, and psychosurgery. Therefore, psychopharmacology for older adults can be considered palliative rather than a cure for a brain disease causing psychopathology. Older adults experience many psychopathological problems, including anorexia tardive, anxiety disorders, delusional disorders, mood disorders, personality disorders, schizophrenia, and co-occurring disorders with substance abuse/dependence disorders. Therefore, it is critical for the social worker to understand the various manifestations of psychological problems in older adults from the perspective of an older adult, rather than extrapolating information commonly taught in social work programs that neglect to focus on older adults and restrict teaching to psycho-pathological problems in younger and middle-aged adults.
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The baby boom cohort brings with it multiple types of substance abuse. Bisexual older adults have more co-occurring psychological problems than heterosexual older adults, older gay males, and older lesbians. An interesting finding is that immigration is contributory to older adult substance abuse. Older adults with alcohol-abuse problems do not seek help for their problems. Rather, they are often identified as having an alcohol-use problem when seeking care for other medical or psychological problems. Social workers assessing an older adult for alcohol abuse often confuse symptoms of possible alcohol abuse with dementia. Prescribing opioids and synthetic opioids to an older adult is complicated. An older adult can suffer from many forms of inner tension. Combining motivational interviewing with cognitive behavioral therapy is shown to be more effective for treating substance abuse that either therapeutic modality alone.
For older adults, the phenomenon of death is accepted and does not induce the fear experienced by younger adults. Older adults who do not engage in end-of-life planning may receive unwanted, unnecessary, costly, and painful medical interventions or withdrawal of desired treatment. Many older people feel that the goal of palliative care is to make the best possible dying experience for the older adult and his/her family. In addition to palliative care, an older adult will most likely find himself or herself in an intensive care unit as part of his or her terminal care. Euthanasia, or hastened death, is seen by some as an alternative to palliative care. A psychological aspect of death that an older adult is concerned with, in addition to place of death, is whether he or she will die in his or her sleep or die suddenly, making the death experience an individual phenomenon.
This concluding chapter summarizes the major points regarding elder abuse (EA) presented in the preceding chapters. It concludes the chapter by taking one last opportunity to encourage exploration and initiation of system-level efforts to solve a major public health problem. The socioecological framework for violence prevention utilized within domestic and global public health work is applicable and extendable to EA. Throughout this book, the authors have argued that EA is a public health problem and that EA may well be among the most under-recognized and under-resourced population health problems of the early 21st century. Public health has frameworks, tools, approaches, relationships, structures, systems, and a variety of agents and organizations poised to address the problem of EA. The imprimatur of the growing population of older adults and the character of demographic transitions occurring globally provide the perfect rationale for action—now.
- Go to chapter: Standing on the Shoulders of Giants: Personal Perspectives on Theory Development in Aging
This chapter provides a brief introduction to approaches to coping theory-from its early roots in psychodynamic defense mechanisms, through cognitive and personality approaches to coping styles, to more current work on coping and adaptive processes. The coping process approach recognizes that coping strategies are influenced not only by person characteristics such as personality, values, and developmental history but also by environmental demands and resources. The chapter develops a definition of ‘resilience’ as the ability to recognize, utilize, and develop or modify resources at the individual, community, and sociocultural levels in the service of three goal-related processes: maintenance of optimal functioning, given current limitations; development of a comfortable life structure; and development of a sense of purpose in life. A common assumption of life-span developmental theories is that the increasing physical and sometimes cognitive limitations with age necessitate changes in adaptive processes.
This chapter reviews biodemographic theories of aging that attempt to answer the proverbial ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions in gerontology. Biodemography of aging represents an area of research that integrates demographic and biological theory and methods and provides innovative tools for studies of aging and longevity. The historical development of the biodemography of aging is closely interwoven with the historical development of statistics, demography, and even the technical aspects of life insurance. The chapter also reviews some applications of reliability theory to the problem of biological aging. Reliability theory of aging provides theoretical arguments explaining the importance of early-life conditions in later-life health outcomes. Moreover, reliability theory helps evolutionary theories explain how the age of onset of diseases caused by deleterious mutations could be postponed to later ages during the evolution this could be easily achieved by simple increase in the initial redundancy levels.
This chapter describes the interpretive perspective in all its richness and variability in guiding research and advancing understanding of a wide range of phenomena in aging and life-course research. It discusses the interpretive perspective with other variants of social science theorizing, particularly normative perspectives on aging and life course-placing its development in historical context. The chapter addresses the contentious issue of causal explanation, as understood in diverse disciplinary contexts. It highlights some prominent normative theoretical approaches in social gerontology, by way of providing a comparative context for our primary consideration of the interpretive perspective. A given theoretical perspective in gerontology can focus solely on macro level, structural phenomena, on micro-level behavior and social interaction, or on understanding of the links between macro and micro phenomena.
This chapter traces the development of concepts and theories in the sociology of aging from the 1940s through the mid-1970s through seven themes. The first theme describes the importance of age in social structure and the place of the aged in changing societies. The second theme focuses on the issue of ‘successful aging’: how to define, measure, and achieve it. The third theme highlights the tension between social structure and individual agency in the activity versus disengagement theory controversy. The fourth theme concerns the social meanings of age, age cohorts, and generations, as well as interactions between age groups. The fifth theme focuses on families, aging, and intergenerational relations. The sixth theme of age stratification deals with the interplay between cohort succession and the aging of individuals. The seventh theme addresses the life course as a socially constructed process.
There can be little doubt that older people have today assumed a special place in the American social policy and political landscape. They constitute a large and growing population, they are increasingly well organized, and they are the recipients of public benefits that are the envy of every other social policy constituency in the nation. This chapter reviews and assesses different theoretical approaches that may help account in all or in part for these fairly recent and remarkable developments. The organization here centers on six distinct theoretical avenues for better understanding these political and policy developments: the logic of industrialization and policy development, the role of political culture and values, the presence of working-class mobilization, the impact of individual and group participation, the weight of state structure, and the effects of policy in shaping subsequent events.
- Go to chapter: Theories of Environmental Gerontology: Old and New Avenues for Person–Environmental Views of Aging
This chapter provides some integrative perspectives to some of the enduring conceptual challenges in the area, such as place dimension while we age; what available theories in the ecology of aging are telling us; and what kind of new impulses refinement in this area are needed. It argues that the current trend toward intensive measurement designs in the daily ecology and the related increasing use of ambulatory assessment, taking into account short-term, interindividual variability in areas such as cognitive and emotional functioning, and daily stress experiences, may benefit from environmental gerontology perspectives. As we see it, environmental gerontology rests on three main principles two more related to the concept level and one more related to research strategy: importance of person-environmental (P-E) transaction and developmental co-construction; importance of explicitly considering the environment, with a focus on the physical-spatial dimension; and importance of optimizing ecological validity in research.
The lifelong manifold process of aging implicates biological, psychological, social, and environmental factors that interact over time and across place in complex ways to direct and temporally organize the shapes and boundaries of lives. As such, aging is a long, broad, and deep process: long, because it occurs continuously across the life span; broad, because it continuously integrates diverse factors from across levels of observation; deep, because it is never fully and directly observable as an ongoing generative process. Over the last two decades, theory building in aging inequality has focused on defining the role of health in the aging process. Arguably, health is now the core metric of aging; the diverse and complex patterns of disease, disability, and mortality with age have become the central problem for aging researchers, especially those concerned with social inequality and its pervasive and enduring effects.
This chapter provides new data and a critical look at the comparative assessment of different ethnic groups’ overall levels of savings given their different experiences in the labor market. It focuses on how employers differentially treat minorities to their disadvantage with a multiple regression analysis that identifies the independent negative impact of being a minority on retirement sponsorship and pension plan participation. Minorities have lesser access to employer-sponsored retirement plans because they are particularly affected by the substitution of defined benefit (DB) plan coverage for less secure and less comprehensive defined contribution (DC) plans. Social Security is an important source of retirement income for all Americans. Minorities are disproportionately employed in lower-paid industries and occupations, which have lower rates of retirement account coverage. Qualitative research and interdisciplinary collaborative studies of minority retirement behavior have emerged.
This chapter shows the importance, for older persons, of support groups. In spite of the changes that have occurred in the American family, and all the negative things that fill the popular press concerning family relationships, the family is still the backbone of support for most older people. To some extent, the type of family support older people obtain depends on whether they are living in the community or in an institutional setting such as a group home, retirement village, or nursing facility. Whether a person is married, has great impact on that person’s support within a family setting including emotional, financial, and physical support, particularly in times of illness or infirmity. The success of a second marriage depends to a considerable extent on the reaction of the adult children of the elderly couple. Older grandparents, no matter how motivated, can find caring for grandchildren to be very tiring.
- Go to chapter: What Does Knowing About Genetics Contribute to Understanding the Health of Minority Elders?
This chapter discusses the identification of individual differences in health behaviors and health status among minorities. Sickle cell disease (SCD), a genetic disorder, may serve as an optimal model for understanding issues of aging in minority populations. SCD is an important model of multifactorial conceptualization of genetic-based chronic disease among aging populations. Generally, molecular genetic methodologies are called to mind when people consider the role of genetic factors in health and disease. Behavioral genetic methods will be particularly useful if one begins studying minorities from the perspective that there is significant heterogeneity within populations of minorities. Conceptual and methodological discussions of heterogeneity within minority populations are particularly timely given the changing sociodemographic features of ethnic/racial populations related to health disparities. Socioeconomic status and education have been found to be important variables associated with the development of chronic illness.
Delirium, also known as acute confusional state, organic brain syndrome, brain failure, and encephalopathy, is a common occurrence among medical and surgical patients and causes extensive morbidity and mortality. This chapter provides an updated review of delirium, including pathophysiological correlates, clinical features, diagnostic considerations, and contemporary treatment options. The defining features of delirium include an acute change in mental status characterized by altered consciousness, cognition, and fluctuations. The chapter explores the risk factors for delirium. These can be divided into two categories: predisposing factors and precipitating factors. Imbalances in the synthesis, release, and degradation in gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA), glutamate, acetylcholine, and the monoamines have also been hypothesized to have roles in delirium. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system (CNS) and medications such as benzodiazepines and propofol have known actions at GABA receptors and have been associated with delirium.
This chapter focuses on the following topics: demography, gender, age at diagnosis/onset of cardiovascular disease (CVD), Medicare usage, work and retirement, social support, social context and neighborhoods, ethnography of families, qualitative research, and social policy. These topics constitute some of the key areas that should be the focus of future research on the sociology of minority aging. The chapter provides a rich description of trends in the ethnic and racial composition of older cohorts to illustrate the dramatic changes that have taken place in the United States in the past century. The rising costs of health care and the increasing older minority population, additional reform will be needed to maintain the sus-tainability of the program. Additional work examining within-race group differences is key to understanding minority aging issues given the large amount of cultural diversity in the United States.
This chapter shows how the United States and the world are experiencing an aging evolution we are growing older. America is going through a revolution. As a whole, Americans are becoming older, and there are many more older people among people than ever before in our history. Obviously all cohorts of the population youth, young adults, middle-aged, young-old, oldest-old are heterogeneous. When some people think about the elderly as a whole, they picture frail, weak, dependent persons, some in nursing homes and many confined to their homes. The chapter demonstrates the differences the various age categories have in relation to selected chronic health conditions that cause limitations of activity. Widowhood is much more common for elderly American women than for older men. The aging of Baby Boomers will solidify the shift America is experiencing with the aging of its population. Centenarians make up a small percentage of the total U.S. population.
- Go to chapter: Introduction: Psychology—Rising as a Discipline to Meet the Challenges of an Aging, Increasingly Diverse Society
Introduction: Psychology—Rising as a Discipline to Meet the Challenges of an Aging, Increasingly Diverse Society
This chapter presents an illustration of the complexities involved in studying ethnic and racial influences on psychosocial processes and how they are intimately tied to physical outcomes in later life. It focuses on psychology as a discipline, minority aging research during the last several decades has revealed the need for multidisciplinary and intersectional conceptual and research approaches. The chapter also focuses on the age, gender, socioeconomic, cultural, and racial and ethnic graded influences on life course development that eventuate in unequal burdens of psychological and physical health morbidity and mortality for certain groups in late life. No section on psychology could be complete without a discussion of religion and spirituality among racial and ethnic minorities. Generational processes are clearly implicated in ideas about the cyclical nature of poverty and health behaviors that are intricately linked with environmental factors and social influence.
This chapter examines the Older Americans Act (OAA) through the prism of the coming nexus of aging and ethnic/racial diversity. It explains that the OAA can serve as a foundation for building a home- and community-based set of services for all older adults and persons with disabilities and for addressing aging in the 2lst century. The OAA is the primary federal program providing a host of services that enable older persons and their families to live in their homes and communities with a measure of dignity and independence. The OAA, Administration on Aging (AOA), and aging network today provide five major categories of services: access to social and legal services, nutrition, home- and community-based long-term social and supportive services, disease prevention and health promotion, and vulnerable elder rights protections. The OAA and the AOA remain secondary players in national agenda setting for an aging population.
This chapter focuses on informal caregiving among minority groups. It also focuses on context of caregiving and discuss the various specific challenges caregivers of minority older adults face. The chapter examines some of the specific caregiving interventions tailored for families of color and discuss the implications for practice, policy, and research. Medical advances and greater longevity point to healthier and longer lives for many, but both formal and informal caregiving remain a concern as individuals age and develop conditions that require care. Caregivers are often able to realize the positive aspects of caregiving when they are not struggling with financial or social support challenges. Despite the vast literature on caregiving in general, research pertaining to the needs and experiences of racial/ethnic minority older adults and their caregivers is limited, particularly for American Indians, Pacific Islanders, specific Asian American and Latino subgroups, and religious minorities groups such as Muslim Americans.
- Go to chapter: Minority Aging Before Birth and Beyond: Life Span and Intergenerational Adaptation Through Positive Resources
Minority Aging Before Birth and Beyond: Life Span and Intergenerational Adaptation Through Positive Resources
This chapter presents an integrative approach to the psychological study of minority populations and the reduction of health disparities through positive nonmaterial resources. It provides a brief introduction to positive psychology and to the concept of early life origins of disease, highlighting the value of integrating these seemingly disparate literatures as a lens for studying health and broader aging processes among minority populations. Minority status whether based on ethnicity, gender, socioeconomic status (SES), citizenship, religion, or other factors is a robust determinant of health, well-being, and success across the life span and intergenerationally. Positive psychology is relevant to health and development particularly physiological and psychological adaptation to stress across the life span, and even across multiple generations among humans in general and among minority populations in particular. Health inequalities are the result of unique challenges to successful psychological and physiological adaptation faced by minority group members.
This chapter discusses current thinking in the field of social support and social relationships, and physical and mental health among older racial and ethnic minorities. Social relationships are an important predictor of health and psychological well-being across the life course. Many minority older adults will face the continued challenges of declining functional status due to physical and mental health conditions over the course of their lives. Most empirical studies on social support among older racial and ethnic minority adults explore the association between social support and both physical and mental health. The wealth of studies on social support among minority older adults has much to offer with respect to understanding the correlates of emotional support and patterns of assistance. The biological mechanisms explaining the link between social support and physical health outcomes have been largely unexplored among older racial and ethnic minority groups.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) is the term applied to a clinical syndrome characterized by insidious progressive language impairment that is initially unaccompanied by other cognitive deficits. This chapter describes several variants of PPA and more than one etiology. It explains three main variants of PPA, namely, semantic Variant of PPA (svPPA), nonfluent/agrammatic variant of PPA (nfvPPA) and logopenic variant of PPA (lvPPA), and also describes criteria for their diagnoses. The defining symptom of PPA is the presence of a language impairment for at least 2 years in the absence of any other significant cognitive problem. Assessment of other cognitive domains is challenging because many tests of memory, attention, executive functioning, and visual-spatial skills rely on language processes in some manner. There are no drug therapies proven to arrest progression of signs and symptoms of PPA due to frontotemporal lobar dementia (FTLD) or Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathologies.
This chapter examines racial and ethnic differences in disability in the United States with a focus on their patterns, trends, and determinants. Disability is responsible for massive social and economic costs to individuals, families, and health care systems. Racial and ethnic differences in health are one of the most widely studied topics in U.S. health disparities research. The risk of disability among older Asians is an understudied area, despite the growth of this population subgroup in recent years due to increased volume of immigration from Asia to the United States. There is an ongoing interest in measuring and understanding the patterns and causes of racial/ethnic differences in disability in the United States. Rising obesity may play an important role in the findings for Hispanic women and for the trend in disability for all race/ethnic groups.
Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), vascular dementia (VaD), and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Under that umbrella, FTD, also known as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), can be further categorized to define a group of neurodegenerative disorders resulting from a progressive deterioration of the cells in the anterior temporal and/or frontal lobes of the brain. More specifically, ventromedial-frontopolar cortex is identified with metabolic impairment in FTD. This chapter elaborates on the history, epidemiology, pathophysiology, clinical features, treatment, and outcomes of FTD. The history and background section of each of the FTD categories highlights the evolution of the disease conceptualization. The FTD subtypes are conceptualized in three categories: neurobehavioral variant, motor variant, and language variant. The chapter illustrates the features of all three categories of FTD.
- Go to chapter: Structural and Cultural Issues in Long-Term Services and Supports for Minority Populations
This chapter examines the history of long-term services and supports (LTSS) programs to document their racially and ethnically disparate impact, and explain the current research on the access and quality of LTSS used by older adults in communities of color. LTSS are a set of health and social services delivered over a sustained period to people who have lost or never acquired some capacity for personal care. The high costs of LTSS have led a smaller number of low-income older adults to consume a large share of Medicaid expenditures. Cultural beliefs about family responsibility to care for older adults as well as attitudes toward the use of formal and/or public health and long-term care services can shape older adults’ use of LTSS. The coming sociodemographic shift of older minority adults calls attention to other structural and cultural issues that facilitate or inhibit the appropriate use of LTSS.
A growing body of research documents racial and ethnic disparities in physical and mental health among older Americans. This chapter discusses larger stress process literature and reviews research on discrimination as a source of stress that is an influential determinant of racial and ethnic differences in the health status of older Americans. It provides a brief overview of disparities in health among older Americans. The chapter discusses the biology of stress, elaborates on key elements of the general stress process framework, and highlights findings pertinent to the health of older minorities. It reviews the research on personally mediated discrimination and health that includes findings from both age-diverse samples and those specific to older adults. The chapter also reviews the literature on coping with discrimination and the contribution of institutionalized discrimination to health inequalities. Lacking are investigations on the joint impact of perceived discrimination and residential segregation.
The concept of Mild cognitive impairment (MCI) makes a lot of sense in that individuals are typically not “normal” one day and “demented” the next. In theory, especially for progressive neurodegenerative conditions, such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD), frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the development of dementia may take months or years. The clinical syndrome of MCI due to AD can be identified via a neuropsychological evaluation or less-sensitive cognitive screening measures. Much of what we are learning about MCI, and therefore refining its diagnostic criteria, is coming from two large-scale studies of cognition and aging: Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) and Australian Imaging, Biomarkers and Lifestyle (AIBL). According to the most recent research diagnostic criteria for MCI due to AD, evidence of beta-amyloid deposition, neuronal injury, and/or other biochemical changes needs to be seen to increase confidence of the etiology of MCI. Cholinesterase inhibitors remain the primary pharmacological treatment for AD.
This chapter provides new insights, direction, and applicability of qualitative research methods in social network analysis, with special emphasis on the minority elder population. It describes how specific qualitative approaches may be applied and contribute to increased understanding in social network analysis. The chapter provides a list of suggested future directions to address issues that are void in the literature on social networks and minority elders. The social networks of older adults provide them with the greatest amount of care and support. Any definition of social networks needs to be grounded in both microstructural and macro-structural perspectives. The social networks of minority elders are uniquely shaped by the cultural norms and values associated with the diverse racial and ethnic groups with which they identify. The conceptual guidance from the life course perspective can also inform understanding the structure and function of social networks among minority elders.
This chapter suggests that the dysexecutive syndrome associated with vascular dementia (VaD) is caused by impairment in separate but related cognitive concepts; that is, pathological inertia, mental bradyphrenia, disengagement, and temporal reordering. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, cerebrovascular dementia was a well-established clinical syndrome. Multi-infarct dementia (MID) generally became associated with all types of vascular syndromes. Recent research suggests the presence of considerable overlap between the neuropathology underlying Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and VaD. Patients diagnosed with VaD tend to produce hyperkinetic/interminable perseverations, suggesting an inability to appropriately terminate a motor response. Other aspects of the dysexecutive syndrome associated with VaD revolve around constructs related to interference inhibition, flexibility of response selection, and sustained attention. From the view point of diagnosis, the neuropathology of VaD often differentially impacts the frontal lobes, whereas the neuropathology associated with AD revolves more around circumscribed temporal lobe involvement.
- Go to chapter: Two Approaches to Developing Health Interventions for Ethnic Minority Elders: From Science to Practice and From Practice to Science
Two Approaches to Developing Health Interventions for Ethnic Minority Elders: From Science to Practice and From Practice to Science
This chapter focuses on more integrated approach or process for developing a health intervention for ethnic minority groups that incorporates accepted principles of medicine and scientific methodology. The changing demographic has led to complex challenges in the U.S. health care system. The delivery of effective health care services hinges on health care professionals’ ability to recognize varied understandings of and approaches to health care across cultures. Health care providers may employ different strategies to increase participation of service users by bridging barriers to communication and understanding that stem from these racial, ethnic, cultural, and linguistic differences. In the context of health or health care improvement, little debate exists concerning the recognized need to help ethnic minority patients maintain and restore health. There are two general approaches for developing culturally appropriate health interventions. The first approach is from science to practice and the second approach is from practice to science.
This chapter discusses the history, organization, development, and the future of Medicare and applies Andersen’s Behavioral Model of Health Services Use to understand utilization among the elderly and conduct a systematic literature review. It analyzes racial/ethnic disparities in health care utilization among the elderly using Andersen’s model and discuss the implications of the current proposals for changes in Medicare for health care utilization especially among minority aging. Racial/ethnic differences in seniors’ use of medical care were sizable before the Medicare program. The focus on deficits and controlling the cost of government has in turn increased the focus on health care and entitlement programs like Medicare. Medicare is important to ensure access to health care for the elderly, particularly the poor and minorities. However, with the rising health care costs and changing demographics, it is clear that Medicare needs some type of reform to ensure its continuing viability.
This chapter provides selective review of research on religion and spirituality across three groups of racial and ethnic minority older adults African American, Asian American, and Hispanic/Latino. It discusses major denomination and faith traditions, as well as information about types and patterns of participation and their sociodemographic correlates. The chapter examines informal social support provisions within faith communities and the types of assistance exchanged. It also examines associations between religion, spirituality and physical/mental health, and psychological well-being. Religion and spirituality, through a variety of psychosocial mechanisms and pathways are thought to have largely beneficial impacts on physical and mental hea.
Dementia pugilistica (DP) is a form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) that involves gross impairment of cognitive and motor functioning due to repetitive blows to the head from boxing. Rapidly increasing in popularity among fight fans and fighters is mixed martial arts (MMA). In the area of sport-related concussion, there are two other frequently used terms that are necessary to distinguish from DP and CTE: postconcussion syndrome (PCS) and second impact syndrome (SIS). The classical clinical signs and symptoms of DP include combinations of dysarthria, incoordination, gait disturbance, pyramidal and extrapyramidal dysfunction, and cognitive impairment. Some media reports about concussion and the potential link between repetitive concussions and long-term problems include eye-catching and emotionally provocative titles. This chapter has provided an overview of the many complex issues surrounding the effects of repeat concussive trauma, particularly in sports.
This chapter focuses on aging and health issues in all of America’s major minority populations including African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, Asian Americans, as well as Native Americans. It addresses the issues of health inequality and health advantage/disadvantage. The chapter introduces relatively new areas of inquiry including long-term care, genetics, nutrition, health interventions, and health policy issues. In addition to possible genetic factors, the literature has emphasized the influence of poverty and socioeconomic status as well as stressors associated with minority group status. The system of long-term care services will need to be restructured to take into account issues affecting minority populations such as health care coverage, housing and income supports, as well as cultural issues as filial piety and trust. The field of minorities, aging, and health has been dominated by a health inequality perspective that has been illustrated by the application of cumulative disadvantage/cumulative inequality theory.
- Go to chapter: Informal Social Support Networks of African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American Older Adults
Informal Social Support Networks of African American, Latino, Asian American, and Native American Older Adults
This chapter provides a selective review of research on social support among older African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American adults. It focuses on social support as a dependent variable in relation to different sources and types of aid provided to older African American, Hispanic, Asian American, and Native American adults. The chapter highlights the findings in three specific areas: marriage and romantic relationships, extended family and non-kin as sources of informal social support, and black-white differences in informal social support. Informal social support networks are critical for individuals of all ages but especially for older adults who are dealing with difficult life circumstances. Older African Americans depend on informal social support networks of family and friends for assistance in emergency situations, as well as for help with various tasks of daily life. Elderly Asians often utilize kin and social support networks for a variety of reasons.
The Transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSEs) form a group of illnesses, characterized by a pathological form of the native prion protein, which results in a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative illness. They also are responsible for Gerstmann-Strâussler-Scheinker (GSS) syndrome and fatal familial insomnia (FFI), and they have been produced experimentally in several other animals. Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is the most common TSE in humans. Human prion diseases have three etiologies: (a) sporadic, (b) genetic, and (c) acquired. Human prion diseases are important to understand because of their underlying pathophysiology, public health implications, and clinical features that often result in misdiagnosis. This chapter reviews the historical discovery of prion diseases and the formulation of the prion hypothesis. It explores prion hypothesis and the neuropathogenesis of prion diseases. The chapter ends with a description of the diagnosis, prognosis, and experimental treatment of human prion diseases.
- Go to chapter: Older Adults of Color With Developmental Disabilities and Serious Mental Illness: Experiences and Service Patterns
Older Adults of Color With Developmental Disabilities and Serious Mental Illness: Experiences and Service Patterns
This chapter focuses on the factors that intersect with race and ethnicity in shaping the experiences of families from racial and ethnic minority communities. It presents a conceptual framework using a Venn diagram that shows the intersection between aging and having a serious mental illness (SMI) or developmental disabilities (DD), limited services for these aging populations, and being a person of color with SMI or DD. People with DD and SMI are now experiencing increased life expectancy due to improved medical and technological advances. However, understanding the needs of aging adults with DD and SMI from diverse communities in the United States and their caregiving families is particularly challenging, because historically, there have been racial and ethnic disparities in the use of specialty health care services. Older adults with DD and SMI from racial minority groups are disadvantaged on multiple domains.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) is a clinical syndrome characterized by progressive dementia, cognitive fluctuations, visual hallucinations (VH), and parkinsonism. In 1961, Okazaki, Lipkin, and Aronson reported two patients with dementia and parkinsonism with cortical neuronal inclusions similar to the brain-stem Lewy bodies (LB) seen in Parkinson’s disease (PD). LBs are intra-cytoplasmic neuronal inclusions containing α-synuclein and ubiquitin. There are other associated pathological features in DLB such as spongiform change neuronal loss, and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology includes amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). DLB and other entities such as PD and multiple system atrophy (MSA) have been grouped under the term synucleinopathies due to the existence of α-synuclein inclusions in the brain. The central feature required for a diagnosis of DLB is the presence of dementia: a progressive cognitive decline of sufficient magnitude to interfere with normal social or occupational function.
This chapter describes an overview of the procedures that a neuropsychologist may apply to a range of similar referrals in the area of civil capacities. It explores the presentation of a framework developed by the American Bar Association/American Psychological Association (ABA/APA) working group on capacity issues and provides more specific guidance regarding assessment tools. Decision making is a complex cognitive process that involves multiple brain regions and brain systems. Injuries to the prefrontal cortex are common in dementia and are often linked to changes in decision-making abilities. Key differences between clinical assessments and those for capacity evaluations include knowledge of relevant legal and ethical issues, a functional assessment, and an ability to present neuropsychological data to lay readers. Research on medical consent capacity and financial capacity highlight the importance of the assessment of calculation, executive function, and verbal memory as part of any test battery.
Chronic alcohol use has been related to various linked disorders when used in excess, particularly when this excessive use becomes chronic. It is important for clinicians to clarify the amount and type of alcohol being consumed and the frequency of this consumption when considering its potential role in any neuropsychological profile. The most commonly reported terms found in the literature include alcohol-induced persisting dementia (APA), alcohol-related dementia, and Korsakoff’s syndrome (KS). This chapter provides some synthesis of this literature to offer some clarity on cognitive dysfunction as it relates to alcohol and the manifestation of dementia as a result of chronic use, including discussion of the classic KS and related presentations. Alcohol dependency is commonly associated with a number of neurological impairments including deficits in abstract problem solving, visuospatial and verbal learning, memory function, perceptual-motor skills, and even motor function.
- Go to chapter: The Productive Engagement of Older African Americans, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans
This chapter provides definitions and theoretical perspectives regarding the productive engagement of older adults. It explores the productive engagement of four ethnic minority groups African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Native Americans. The chapter discusses programs and policies that will help increase the productive engagement of older adults. It is possible that older adults will be judged by their ability to be productive and expected to be productive. Those older adults who have been disadvantaged across the life course will continue to be disadvantaged in later life when they still face discrimination in access to or support for productive engagement. Both definitions and theoretical perspectives are important to understanding the productive engagement of older racial/ethnic minorities. At the societal level, increasing the productive engagement of older adults, in general, may increase the supply of experienced employees, volunteers, and caregivers.
- Go to chapter: Age in Place and Place in Age: Advancing the Inquiry on Neighborhoods and Minority Older Adults
This chapter focuses on potential new lines of inquiry that emerge from the synthesis of research in ethnic geography, urban studies, race/ethnicity, and age/life course. It emphasizes the importance of integrating work from ethnic geography into studies of minority older adults and their neighborhoods. There has been a long tradition of work on the role of neighborhoods for minority older adults, ranging from their health-protective elements to their challenges for older adults. Research on neighborhood context for minority older adults could benefit from an expanded view of age in studies of place. Research on minority older adults and neighborhoods could also benefit from an expanded focus on place in studies of age, namely integrating research from ethnic geography. Integrating research from multiple levels of context, ranging from cross-national migration to attachment to place, opens a new vista of inquiry on minority aging and neighborhoods.
This chapter provides an overview of key theoretical considerations that are important to understanding mortality and longevity differences across groups. It focuses on the historical and social contexts as well as the life course processes that are most important in understanding patterns and trends of race/ethnicity, aging, and mortality/longevity in the United States. The chapter provides a new empirical analysis of race/ethnicity and U.S. adult mortality risk, focusing on key demographic and socioeconomic factors that influence mortality differentials across groups. It also focuses on critical research needs and on the ways that social and health policy might effectively influence future mortality and longevity trends for all race/ethnic subgroups in an increasingly diverse and aging society. The understanding of race/ethnic patterns and trends of mortality and longevity must also consider the ways in which the life course unfolds in unique ways across groups.
This chapter provides definitions and scope of the problem of eliminating disparities in end-of-life (EOL) care. It provides a translation of the theories and research that can be used to guide social work practice with minority older adults. The chapter suggests that when working with minority elderly, the psychosocial needs of the patient and family become even more critical in decisions that may affect the timing of death. The term end-of-life care traditionally refers to the last phases of an illness before death; however, experiences across the earlier course of the illness are critical to shaping the anticipation, expectations, and preparedness for care during the terminal phases of illness. In terms of EOL care decision making and the disparity in hospice utilization across racial groups, Critical Race Theory (CRT) offers insight for looking at race relations in a broader context than the traditional perspective.
Improved nutritional status is an important component of efforts to improve the health of older adults, whose ability to consume a healthy diet is affected by comorbidities and behavioral, cognitive, and psychological factors. In addition to genetics and nutrition intake, nutritional status of the elderly could be affected by socioeconomic factors, such as education and income levels, and environmental factors, such as proximity to stores and transportation, that can affect food variety and availability. Nutrition and aging are connected inseparably because eating patterns affect progress of many chronic and degenerative diseases associated with aging. Anthropometric measurements are often used for nutritional assessment of older adults and are reliable across ethnicities. The Mini-Nutritional Assessment (MNA) tool was developed to evaluate the risk of malnutrition among frail older adults. Dietary patterns may better capture the multifaceted effects of diet on body composition than individual nutrients or foods.
- Go to chapter: Understanding Age at Onset and Self-Care Management to Explain Racial and Ethnic Cardiovascular Disease Disparities in Middle- and Older-Age Adults
Understanding Age at Onset and Self-Care Management to Explain Racial and Ethnic Cardiovascular Disease Disparities in Middle- and Older-Age Adults
This chapter examines conceptual frameworks and theories on racial and ethnic health disparities that can apply to cardiovascular diseases (CVD) among middle-age and older age adults; investigate age at onset/diagnosis of CVD as it varies by race and ethnicity, with some explanations as to why these disparities exist; understand difficulties with CVD self-care/management by race and ethnicity, with some explanations as to why these disparities exist; and discuss future directions, considering data, prevention, and intervention, and policy needs. Several conceptual models and theories can address racial and ethnic CVD disparities among middle-age and older age adults, including the social determinants of health (SDOH) model, the social-ecological model, and life course theory. An earlier age at onset/diagnosis of CVD for racial and ethnic minorities potentially leads to earlier health declines and earlier death because of access to care and self-management difficulties.
- Go to chapter: Does Health Care Quality Contribute to Disparities? An Examination of Aging and Minority Status Issues in America
Does Health Care Quality Contribute to Disparities? An Examination of Aging and Minority Status Issues in America
This chapter focuses on the changing health care policy climate. These changes can either reduce current barriers or create new challenges to health care. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) has reformed the Medicare payment system and incorporated the voice of older minority adults in shaping the performance of their local health care delivery system. Health care access inequity and policy-based remedies have historic roots in U.S. civil rights legislation. The civil rights of older adults and their access to health care were resolved through Medicare. ACA policy creates an opportunity to reframe health disparities research as a consumer issue. However, the terms health disparities, older minorities, and barriers to care are not usually viewed as consumer issues. Standardization of health care practice creates research opportunities for social gerontologists to evaluate policy and its impact on health care access disparities.
This book provides a multidisciplinary compendium of research pertaining to aging among diverse racial and ethnic populations in the United States. It focuses on paramount public health, social, behavioral, and biological concerns as they relate to the needs of older minorities. The book is divided into four parts covering psychology, public health/biology, social work, and sociology of minority gang. The book focuses on the needs of four major race and ethnic groups: Asian/Pacific Islander, Hispanic/Latino, black/African American, and Native American. It also includes both inter- and intra-race and ethnic group research for insights regarding minority aging. The chapters focus on an array of subject areas that are recognized as being critical to understanding the well-being of minority elders. These include psychology (cognition, stress, mental health, personality, sexuality, religion, neuroscience, discrimination); medicine/nursing/public health (mortality and morbidity, disability, health disparities, long-term care, genetics, nutritional status, health interventions, physical functioning); social work (aging, caregiving, housing, social services, end-of-life care); and sociology (Medicare, socioeconomic status (SES), work and retirement, social networks, context/neighborhood, ethnography, gender, demographics).